The team that created the Weird series presents another title about bullying, again emphasizing the three roles in bullying transactions—target, initiator, bystanders—and bringing home to readers what they can do to end bullying.
Whether it’s demeaning the activities Thomas enjoys, putting down his soccer plays, using insulting words, or being physically abusive, Kyle makes Thomas feel like a nobody. But Thomas’ friends and some trusted adults help him change his thinking: “Maybe Kyle is right. Maybe nobody is like me. And maybe that’s a GOOD thing!” Thomas decides “it’s time for a new story,” and though his courage isn’t what he might like, he takes the first step in standing up to Kyle, and his friends back him up. Heaphy does an excellent job portraying emotions through facial expressions and posture—Thomas is visibly cowed, and Kyle consistently leans forward threateningly. Kyle and Thomas are in full color, while the rest of the characters are done in black and white with small patches of color. The backmatter is especially valuable, breaking down the actions that Thomas, his friends, and Kyle took to help end the bullying, giving ideas about combating bullying and thinking differently about oneself, and providing parents with constructive discussion questions.
Didactic? Yes. And maybe Thomas’ and Kyle’s transformations are a bit too good to be true. But this is valuable nonetheless. (Picture book/bibliotherapy. 6-10)